This Suspended ‘Yellow Brick Road’ in the Bay Area Is Wizardly

San Francisco is home to hundreds of public staircases and walkways that take your breath away (figuratively and literally). But one in Menlo Park is just as pretty, though not as taxing.

I have a strange, idiosyncratic relationship with Silicon Valley — Menlo Park and Mountain View, specifically. During my iteration of Hotel Prius (that I still enjoy indulging in often), I found it easiest to stealth camp at 24 Hour fitness locations in South Bay. Also, fun fact, the only Walmart location on this SF side of the Bay Bridge is addressed in Mountain View, which, too, has glorious parking areas to drop the back seats and catch a few REM cycles.

This past week, I traveled back to this familiar slice of the Bay Area; I found it as good a time as any to finally check out the brand-new pedestrian bridge at the newly-opened Meta Park.

I previously waxed pragmatic about Meta’s first public park… that I found both raised my resting heart rate and blood pressure trying to access. Google Maps guided me to — surprise! — an employee parking lot. Using Apple Maps found me at — OMG! — a tech bus drop-off/pick-up site. Waze basically said “best of luck, babe.”

After gnashing my teeth and worsening my already severe TMJ, I parked about a quarter-mile from Meta Park along Hamilton Avenue. Nursing the last bits of my lukewarm Diet Coke, I began the sunset-soaked walk to what I’ve affectionately called “South Bay’s Yellow Brick Road.”

Granted: A large part of it’s hoisted well above the cement below.

To create the park Meta formed partnerships between Gehry Partners (designers of the newest wing of the Facebook campus), CMG Landscape, and Level 10 Construction to design and develop it — as well as the bright yellow pedestrian footbridge that connects the 2.2-acre park to other nearby pathways, including the Bedwell Bayfront Park. The elevated footpath, too, connects the Belle Haven neighborhood to a portion of the San Francisco Bay Trail.

Moreover: At 1,026 feet in length, the Frank Gehry Architects-designed bridge is one of — if not the — longest elevated pedestrian bridge of its kind in South Bay.

Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Charnock

Meta Park, itself, is unfortunately forgettable. Eyeing the snaking network of yellow-painted steel directly in front of me, the park disappeared; nothing in my periphery (that included a view of a patch of concrete as large as the open green space) elicited a double-take.

But damn: The high-slung walkway looked damn good.

My first steps over the bridge were familiar, welcoming, and uneventful. I was shrouded in an end-of-day shadow afforded by the large Meta office building to my left, allowing my eyes to relax; jaw unclenches; face softens. It was a centering trudge up the angled walkway, the yellow steel barriers adding stark, serene contrast to the sunset Pantones.

Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Charnock

About halfway through the pedestrian bridge is when the stark juxtaposition starts to enter the frame. Bicycles and bipeds on their two feet walk over the bustling Bayfront Expressway down below. While (mostly) private vehicles emit greenhouse gasses that worsen human-induced climate change, the sprawling nature reservation (where threatened snowy plovers mate and nest) exists in pristine conditions.

A small lookout point complete with a roomy overlook point where I stopped, paused and stood still. It’s rare to find such pockets of calm in Silicon Valley, let alone one hoisted above a highway that lets you appreciate the Bay Area’s endless beauty. Descending down the latter portion of the pathway, I realized it also connects pedestrians to a portion of the SF Bay Trail — accented with nearby benches.

Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Charnock

Curious minds will wander underneath the pedestrian bridge… where they’ll find the same color scheme used on the steelwork above. The gravel is neatly bedded underneath it; there’s a linear quality to the underpinning of the walkway that exudes a sentiment of composure.

Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Charnock

There, a thirty-minute drive from my downtown San Francisco apartment, I found another walkable nicety to add to my growing roster — of staircases; of walkways; of pedestrian bridges. This one just so happens to be the closest oddity to the Wizard of Oz of them all.


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